Mimosa 16 letters column; title illo by Joe Mayhew
Thanks once again to everyone who sent up a letter (or e-mail) of comment. We're gratified by the response; receiving your letters of comment really does motivate us to keep publishing. Please be assured, too, that all of your comments on the articles in Mimosa (whether or not they see print in the Letters Column) will find their way back to our contributors, which provides additional motivation to them as well.

Perhaps surprisingly, the article that generated the most response this time was Allyson and David Dyar's "Eatin' With the Force" essay about different local delicacies they encountered in various ports of call with the military. We'll get to those comments shortly, but first we'll open with a letter by someone we haven't heard from in a while. }}

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Mike Glicksohn, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Your special theme issue should probably have been called the 'food and dining' issue, since I spotted little mention of my favourite topic: drinking. In all honesty, 'food' is not a topic I'm too qualified to write about or comment on. I eat, of course, better than ever since marrying Susan, but despite the fact that I love to go to restaurants and enjoy many different types of food, I still somehow consider eating a necessary evil rather than a source of inspiration for fanzine articles.

I might have done a tad better on 'drink' if I'd been a lot more active just after M14 appeared, but on the other hand, most of the interesting tales (the Spayed Gerbil saga, the bug-infested scotches I inadvertently consumed, etc.) have already been written up for fanzines. (And one of the problems about the amusing, interesting, poignant, or unusual stories one generates while drinking is that most of them are totally forgotten afterwards.)

Anyway, I know of few foods that cause such intense devotion among fannish eaters as ribs. For my money, the best ribs in North America are served in Ribs King in Cincinnati, but I know of many other rib places throughout the U.S. that have their own passionately devoted, albeit obviously misguided, supporters. Somewhere, sometime, some convention with overlapping coffers is going to have to arrange for ribs to be flown in from half a dozen of these famed locations to see if some sort of agreement can be reached. (Oh, silly me: did I say 'agreement' in talking about fans and food? Obviously I've been gafiated far too long!)

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Tom Feller,Jackson, Mississippi
I read with interest Nicki's opening comments {{"A Portrait of the Fan Editor as a Child, Part 1" }}. Like Nicki, I grew up on a farm, although my parents were more modern than her grandparents. Rather than grow most of their own food, they got in their car and drove to a supermarket. Nicki does describe meals that were very much like those of my grandparents. I spent a day with them around Christmas last year, and they still eat that way. Unfortunately, they still expect me to eat as much as I did when I was a growing boy. (I'm still growing, just horizontally.) They also retain the custom of calling the noon meal dinner and the evening one supper. Lunch is for urban dwellers.

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Catherine Mintz, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
While I enjoyed issue number fifteen of Mimosa, you could have subtitled a substantial portion of it 'Tales of Horror from the Table'.

You would not know it from Dafydd Dyar's encounter in the Upper Peninsula, but pasties have a long and honorable history as the pre-Lord Sandwich answer to a portable lunch. The original was a hash of vegetables with meat wrapped in a pastry crust, baked in covered pan in the ashes of a dying fire, then swathed in a handkerchief and tucked into a pocket for breakfast or lunch. While modern versions tend to be heavy on the potatoes and turnips, the original had no potatoes, since they postdate the pasty in Europe; and it may not have had turnips either, since they were fed to the stock. Pasties are best eaten fairly soon after they are baked -- you don't want the crust and the filling to become too well acquainted. The version I'm familiar with comes from Wales, where they were the traditional food of miners going down into the pits. Given that both hash and pastry are pretty much as good as the cook making them, some pasties are excellent and others disgusting.

I'd bet Dafydd was eating mutton more often than he thought in Turkey. Even in fancy restaurants, what appear to be enormous roast haunches of lamb are usually slices of young mutton interspersed with slices of fat, the whole elaborately seasoned and formed into a cylinder on a meter-long spit which is rotated upright in front of a wall of burning charcoal. The heat can be so intense that it crisps the end of the cook's hair and leaves his mustache frosty with ash. The outer layer of the roast is carved off in thin slices, and every slice has a crust of cooked juices and a inner layer of rarer meat. Then the whole thing is left to cook some more, so more servings can be carved.

Do continue to report on both Chat and the Dire Wolf. Although they have distinct ecological niches and feed on different prey populations, it might be interesting to have them discuss some of the more ambiguous cases. This guy DiChario wrote a fine fannish piece, where would they place him? As a pro or a fan? Perhaps on a platter if they were feeling very formal. A blood-thirsty pair, indeed.
illo by William Rotsler
Ruth Judkowitz, Chatsworth, California
I'm surprised the Dyars couldn't find more to say about cuisine on Guam. Spam, the meat of choice for many on Guam, is on the menu of every coffee shop on the island. In fact, the Atkins-Kroll Toyota dealership would advertise that they would fill up the back of any newly purchased pickup truck with cases of Spam. Some incentive, huh? It must have worked, as they were the top-selling dealership on Guam.

Also, I wouldn't want to slight the island's ubiquitous sauce -- Tabasco. There is a bottle on every table and no ketchup in sight. In 1989, Guam had the highest per capita rate of Tabasco consumption in the U.S. The Dyars were right on the mark with their description of 'boonie peppers', quite possibly the hottest pepper on earth. But they didn't mention my favorite Chamorro dish -- chicken or fish kelaguen, a mixture of raw coconut, lime juice, those hot li'l boonie peppers, onion, and chicken or fish (raw fish or cooked-enough-to-be-nearly-raw chicken) all ground up together.

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Ben Zuhl, Falls Church, Virginia
"Eatin' with the Force" was familiar. We go through many of the same problems and experiments in the Foreign Service. Serving in Krakow, Poland, during Martial Law was fascinating but foodwise left much to be desired. Going to a restaurant, we would look at an extensive menu but always have to ask the code question of the waiter, "What is good today?" His answer would tell us what was actually available, regardless of its taste. Cooking at home was an adventure since 'night soil' was used to fertilize crops. This forced us to have to clean the veggies in Clorox before using them. The water in the Vistula River was so polluted that industries couldn't use it. This was our drinking water! To use it we had to boil it and then filter it in a large water purifier we called the Blue Nun due to its size and shade.

When we served in Manila, the Embassy name for the Filipino delicacy Balut was 'Eggs with Legs'. The one time I had it the Balut had no odor, and the taste was drowned in the salt that was customarily poured over it. It was reputed among Filipinos to increase sexual staying power. The only thing I thought it would increase was the blood pressure. Also in Manila there were Lechon stands all over the place. In these three-sided huts, there was a roaring fire with between one and three whole pigs being slowly turned over it. Then the skin and fat were sliced off and sold by the piece, or whole lechon were sold and served at special functions. There were many places to buy cats and dogs already butchered. For this reason Americans with pets were advised to get tags showing they had their rabies shots. This was supposed to make them less likely to be stolen and eaten since the shots were supposed to make the animals poisonous. We had friends whose relatives owned a prawn farm. At harvest time we would go there and live for a weekend in a hut on stilts over the water. Each meal was shrimp prepared in a variety of ways. It was worth the three-hour drive and the 45 minutes in a tiny barka (canoe with one outrigger) to get there.
illo by Bill Kunkel
Patrick McGuire, Columbia, Maryland
David Dyar mentions 'pasties' in Upper Peninsula, Michigan. My father's home town was on the southern edge of the U.P., safely out of pasty country. For a number of years in my childhood, however, every summer we drove from suburban Chicago up to my father's home town to visit relatives, then across the U.P. and down into the 'mitten' part of Michigan, to visit more relatives. I remember seeing all the signs for pasties, but we never stopped, and as far as I can remember, I've never tasted a pasty. Maybe my father already knew better.

And so on to the Worldcon... I had a good time in Winnipeg, and in fact everybody I've talked to, or whose con report I've so far read, had a good time there. But I'm a little puzzled and disturbed that turnout had dropped so much from other recent North American worldcons, and in particular that so many writers and editors were conspicuous by their absence. If nothing else, it seems rather insulting to Canada and Canadian fandom and prodom on the occasion of the first worldcon there in twenty-one years. True, Winnipeg was a little off the beaten path for most North American fans and pros, but so was Orlando in 1992. True, low airline competition meant that Winnipeg was more expensive to get to by plane than Orlando had been, but the already-low hotel rates plus the current strength of the U.S. dollar meant that, from the Baltiwash area and presumably the whole mid-Atlantic, and probably from many other points in North America, a fan would have more than saved on hotel expenses what the fan spent on extra airfare. I wonder how much Bicoastal snobbery had to do with it. On the other hand, reportedly the publishing industry is retrenching. Maybe the editors had less travel money and less interest in making deals, and maybe those pros who con-go only for business stayed away because they knew of the relatively poor chances of finding editors there. Oh, well. A good time was had by all who did attend, and maybe it was just as well to shake off some of the fakefans and purely mercenary pros and editors.

Oh, yes, on another topic. If memory serves, in the letters column Harry Warner somewhere says that the word 'fandom' is a fannish coinage. In the recent Baseball documentary on PBS, however, it occurs, with reference to baseball fans, in a quote from a sports reporter writing in 1910 or so.

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Art Rapp, Bloomsburg, Pennsylvania
I am green with envy (or perhaps an unfortunate episode of experimental cuisine) after reading Allyson M.W. Dyar's account of strange sustenance offered in various foreign climes where she and her husband were stationed. I, too, ate my way through 20 years of Army chow in various exotic locations (Germany, Italy, Korea, Texas, Japan, Iceland, and probably a few others I've mercifully forgotten). Of course, there was the Guardhouse mess hall at Fort Sam Houston (I was on the staff, not an involuntary inmate) where all of our cooks were natives of Louisiana bayou country, and any unsuspecting diner who put a few drops of their homebrewed hot sauce on his food would clutch his throat in horror, drop his tableware, and dash madly for the water fountain. (The cooks themselves poured the sauce on their vittles like ketchup.) Aside from the two assigned cooks, the kitchen staff was recruited from the prisoner population, but since that was shortly after WWII when a lot of old Regular Army noncoms were still around, trying hard but unsuccessfully to keep sober long enough to earn their retirement, we turned up a lot of extra help with culinary know-how. (And, behind bars, they unwillingly remained sober, which isn't denying that shakedowns of the cellblocks frequently turned up jars of various unidentified liquids which would have equalled anything fandom produced in the name of Blog, if allowed to ferment a few more days.)

Dave Thayer's article on Army chow {{"Army Chow and Other War Atrocities" }} (and it has the ring of truth) indicates that he had a lot tougher time with the Food Service branch of the military than I did. In Korea we dined outdoors during the winter of `51-`52, sitting on GI cans or squatting in the snow trying to empty our mess kits before the food froze to them. After three months or so, someone got around to erecting a dining hall for us: a squad tent with waist-high narrow plank tables so we could set our mess kits down and use both hands, bellying up to the tables like cowboys in a movie Western bar. But the food was hot and also the wash line (which isn't always true in field cookery, GI style), and since it was far enough back from the front lines that no one was shooting at us, it was no worse than basic training (where an old Platoon Sergeant gathered a crowd of us loudly complaining trainees one day at the rifle range when lunch was late, and advised us, "Now in civilian life you guys may have lived to eat, but I'm telling you, in the Army you eat to live." Good advice, which I remembered all through my military life and long afterward.)

Have I mentioned military ice cream? The stuff comes in little slabs, about 4-by-5 inches and a half-inch thick, wrapped in a band of thin paper, and usually in any flavor you can imagine, if all you can imagine is vanilla. Since, outside the US, it is usually made with powdered milk, its flavor is guaranteed not to enchant you, but it's tolerable on hot summer days. The most memorable thing about GI ice cream bars is that if you get it at all, you get it in generous quantities, so that anyone who cares for more than the initial serving will find dozens of further helpings available after everyone has finished dining. These, regrettably, are always plain vanilla.

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Harry Andruschak, Torrance, California
The article in M15 dearest to my heart was from David Thayer. Not that I ate C-Rations in the Army. I was in the U.S. Navy between 1963 and 1973, and it was the opinion of the Navy that we had the best food of all the services. "The Navy gets the gravy while the Army gets the beans."

And it probably was. Of course, like all institutional food...armed forces, hospitals, airplanes, anything that has to be mass-produced, there was a certain blandness. The Navy went along with SAD, Standard American Diet, and it was adequate.

Another legacy of my years in the Navy is that I am a fast eater. Not in the sense of gulping or bolting my food. More like what Isaac Asimov wrote about in his autobiography. If you remember, he mentioned how his own early training made him a faster eater than average, and on the rubber chicken circuit he was always the first to finish.

In some respects, that is me. Even after all these years I find it hard to break the habit of sitting down and eating, non-stop, no distractions and no conversation, as if I still had only 15 minutes to eat before I had to relieve the watch. Woe unto any sailor late in relieving the watch!

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Ken Bulmer, Tunbridge Wells, Kent, England
Concerning Thayer's piece about Army food, I can only say that I served for a time with the U.S. 15th Air Force in Italy. Here I think it was that I first came across peanut butter which these days I eat regularly. At the time I was amazed at blokes putting peanut butter and jam (jelly?) on the same piece of bread. Strange. The U.S. food we found rather too sloppy without anything to get your teeth into, although that may simply have been an idiosyncracy of the base. We were most of us, I remember, glad to get back to bully beef and biscuits and real food. During the war a myth grew up that we soldiers ate everything with our spoons. When my mother asked if this was true I said only when I was with the Yanks.
illo by Phil Tortorici
David Bratman, San Jose, California
A special issue of Mimosa on food was a brilliant idea: you've gotten some of the most compulsively readable articles you've ever published. David Thayer's on army food in Vietnam and Sharon Farber's on hospital food are perhaps the most outstanding, in their black-humorous combinations of death and/or violence with bad food. David's was particularly interesting at this moment, as it covered an important subject virtually untouched in any of the famous Vietnam War movies I watched in a recent video orgy. I think it was in Platoon that a soldier crossing a waist-deep river dipped his canteen into the water and was about to take a drink until a buddy suggested that malaria was not something one should want to pick up. And aside from a few torchings of the natives' farms, that's just about the only reference to food that I saw in three films. It's probably a good thing that the films were equally circumspect about how soldiers do in the woods what bears proverbially also do there, but perhaps David will have the courage and humor to take up this equally urgent subject sometime.

David and Allyson Dyar's piece on truly international dining was also quite interesting. I've only visited half a dozen countries, none of them particularly exotic, but I've picked up a few useful pieces of wisdom the hard way: Do not order hamburgers anywhere outside the U.S., even in Canada. In England, Mexican food is gourmet exotica (something unbelievable to Californians) and therefore expensive: go for the Indian instead. In Scotland, eat a haggis. Go on, I dare you. In Holland, eat pancakes three times a day: they're exotic and wonderful. In Germany, the sauerkraut is actually edible, something I've never experienced at home.

Nicholas DiChario's first fanzine article {{"Breathing Water" }} was of particular interest to me, seeing as I was the person who got to call him up in the first place to tell him he was nominated for the Hugo and the Campbell. So I feel in a way responsible for his visit to San Francisco, and his Rochester-eye view of my home town was an interesting one.

My only food expedition to North Beach during ConFrancisco went to The Stinking Rose, an Italian restaurant expressly designed for garlic-lovers. Of course there are problems with eating there. About noon the next day I ran into ConAdian chairman John Mansfield. "You at at The Stinking Rose last night, didn't you?" he observed.

{{We also visited The Stinking Rose during our ConFrancisco trip (on the night after we had won our second Hugo Award), and were bemused when a table of local Washington fans (who had arrived there before us) greeted us with applause as we walked through the restaurant to our table. The hostess looked at us curiously as if we might be celebrities she should recognize. }}

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Mike McInerny, Daly City, California
"Breathing Water" by Nick DiChario was well-written, entertaining and conveyed neofannish enthusiasm, but contained a few errors. The sign says 'South San Francisco, The Industrial City'. Actually, South City (as they call themselves who live there) is mostly famous for that sign and nothing else. Also, if the cab driver cruised from the airport past Fisherman's Wharf through Chinatown to get to a hotel near ConFrancisco, then Nick was really being taken for a ride, far and wide of where he wanted to go!

Roger Sims's article {{"The Politics of a Dinner" }} was also interesting. Like Roger, when I lived in New York City I found that club fandom was really scattered -- there was ESFA in Newark, New Jersey, the Lunarians in the Bronx, and the Fanoclasts in Brooklyn. I think I may have been the only fan to regularly go to all of them. I started FISTFA in Manhattan (1963-1969) to try to form a bridge for all fans to meet. After every ESFA meeting we went out to eat at a local cafeteria; after Fanoclasts, we stopped at a White Castle, where burgers were always 4 for a dollar, and had fried onions on them. At Lunarians there was usually coffee and cake or cookies, and a wild card game of Hearts with Charlie Brown, Frank Dietz, Walt Cole, Ted White, and myself. At FISTFA, it was mostly BYOB, and we usually waited until very late at night for those who didn't approve to leave before we smoked any pot. Fans who didn't get stoned (like Ted White) would go, then we who stayed would listen to music until dawn.

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Richard Brandt, El Paso, Texas
This issue was an especially pleasant treat as I began reading it while sitting in a hotel restaurant in Midland, Texas, waiting both for my meal to be served and for the rest of my entourage to arrive the next day for a customer meeting, and as Nicki implies, no fan should have to eat alone...

Anyway, Bruno Ogorelec's tales {{"The Schoonerburger and Other Stories" }} evoked memories of my 'starving student' days. When I was an undergraduate living on campus, along with our tuition we were compelled to buy meal tickets redeemable in the cafeteria, which fell short of providing three square's worth a day for an entire semester. To stretch out this allowance as far as possible, I resorted to no-cost supplements wherever possible. With Thousand Island dressing, which Sharon Farber so reviles, I found I could easily double the bulk of the lowest-price item on the menu, a single-scoop serving of tuna salad. Similarly, the canisters of grated parmesan cheese placed at no charge on each table could pump up a serving of spaghetti and meat sauce.

Eventually I found both quarters and employment off campus, and was able to provide myself with more substantial home-cooked fare (my piece de resistance: macaroni and fish). When one of my two roommates moved out of the two-story house we were renting, I had to fall back on such stratagems as seeing how far a man could go on a sack of potatoes, a tub of sour cream, a block of margarine, and a shaker of garlic salt for flavor.

Ian Gunn's article {{"Air Fare, Train Fare" }} also reminds me of the meal that Michelle and I shared with Ed, a fan we met at Westercon. I had promised Michelle we wouldn't have to buy every meal with a credit card at the Texaco station across the street, but even though there were also a Carl's Jr. and a perfectly good Denny's on the same street, who wanted other alternatives? Ed was also hanging around late in the day Monday, and someone suggested we try the Marriott next door, which had three restaurants. Ed thought Marriotts were pretty reliable, so off we went.

We chose the more moderately-priced of the places, and sat down to order a lavish repast: steak for Ed, prime rib for Michelle, chicken for myself. Ed made a joke about a place in L.A. that offered your meal free if any employee of the restaurant asked you, "Is everything all right?" This joke lost some of its humor as the evening wore on and we scanned the horizon in vain for our waiter, whose existence could only be inferred from observing a trail of surliness that was left in his wake.

As for the food, Ed took one bite of his steak, grimaced painfully, then fighting obvious reluctance, reached for a bottle of ketchup and did the nigh-unthinkable. Our other selections were of the same caliber. Ed was also supposed to get onion rings instead of french fries, but the waiter took such precipitous flight after dropping off our dishes that Ed didn't have time to mention it. After the passage of sufficient time for a volume of Proust, said functionary actually appeared at our table to ask how our food was, but literally took off running before we could answer. Ed insisted we should leave a two-cent tip, but even we, marginal as we were, could not muster sufficient heartlessness. We left two nickels instead.

Finally, Nick DiChario's article was wonderfully written. If he keeps at it, the kid could become a halfway decent fan writer someday...

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Harry Warner, Jr., Hagerstown, Maryland
The thing that most impressed me about this collection of food pieces plus a fakefood item or two is how far superior the Walt Willis reprint {{"Foot and Drink" }} is to everything else as far as sheer writing ability is concerned. Nobody in fandom today can achieve such writing over the course of several pages, although a few contemporary fans may get out a paragraph here and there that is superior, and thus sticks out conspicuously among the more routine remainder of the piece. I don't mean that other contributors in this issue aren't interesting, and amusing, and informative. But none of them lets off the verbal fireworks in a continuous barrage like these pages from "The Harp Stateside."
Chat cartoon by Teddy Harvia
Steve Jeffery, Kidlington, Oxon, United Kingdom
I was reading Walt Willis's article, and almost immediately I bumped into another of his terrible puns, the 'Sundae Observance Society'. For that, Walt, you fully deserve the demon Burger With Everything On It. God, aren't American portions impressive (and sometimes oppressive) in their sheer quantity? There were several times while I was in Texas that we felt like going back to a restaurant and skipping the entree, so we'd have a fighting chance at the sweet trolley. Or at least asking for child's portions, with the humble apologetic explanation that we were British, and thus unused to steaks that weighed in at several pounds rather than ounces.

Of that visit, to the Mexican border of Texas, I have strong memories of the food: the absolute delight of a first encounter with Dunkin' Donuts, fajitas, the never ending cup of coffee (a most worthy American tradition) and, with more mixed reaction, a seemingly ubiquitous and endless supply of guacamole, pico and the meat soup at a Mexican trucker's cafe.

{{Well, being in Texas explains it; everything is bigger in Texas! You apparently never ran into that Americanism, Nouvelle Cuisine, which stresses presentation (artsy) over portion size (puny). You might be familiar with parodies of Nouvelle Cuisine, where the waiter serves the diner a main course consisting of a pea, a small carrot, and an inch-square piece of steak. In truth, it's a bit more food than that, but the portions are not very large. While it seemed popular in some areas of California, it (thankfully) has never caught on in the rest of the country. }}

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Joseph T. Major, Louisville, Kentucky
If Walt Willis ever reprises his fabled 1952 visit (perhaps we can accelerate the semi-centennial), he can visit one of the many top-it-yourself hamburger palaces that have come to be in the past few years. Here in Louisville we have two such: Flakey Jake's, a large chain, and W.W. Cousin's, a local chain. Then the only person he can disappoint by not finishing the Ultimate Hamburger With Absolutely Everything is himself.

Looking at the unshaven Mayhew drawing (Joe Mayhew himself is pretty unshaven at that, but a truce to compliments) illustrating David Thayer's daymares of Army food, I was reminded of one use for K-Ration peanut butter: it makes an acceptable shaving cream surrogate. However, confessing to a war crime, namely giving C-Rations to innocent Vietnamese who might have mistaken them for food, is hardly likely to win him respect no matter how much he regrets it. (I know what they called ham and lima beans, and Oedipus should have felt insulted by the comparison.)

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Terry Jeeves, Newby, Scarborough, North Yorkshire, United Kingdom
An 'all food' issue is a change and your opening comment caused me to think back to a few memorable incidents in India. In Bombay, I tried a 'chicken pie' and was amazed to find when it arrived, the pie crust was simply a mass of potato crisps. Up the coast at Juhu, I was once served a bottle of lemonade with a thumb-sized insect floating inside. When I pointed it out, the barman offered to fish it out for me! Walt's excellent Stateside piece reminded me of a sign in Boston: 'Chinese Spaghetti House'.

In David Thayer's piece, I thought the idea of throwing food into the fire in front of starving Vietnamese, or taunting them by throwing empty cans off a lorry was disgusting. Ogorelec showed us the other side of the coin in relating (without moaning about it) the hardships experienced by those living in places where rampant inflation reigns supreme, where on payday one runs to spend the lolly before its value is halved overnight. Engholm chose a no-no subject for me {{"The Rise and Fall of Cucumber" }}, as cucumbers are not on my list of favorite fruit -- so even an amateur press association named Cucumber scares me away!

Excellent LoCs, and I must put in another plug for the superb illustrations by Ranson, Mayhew, and one or two names which I couldn't make out.
illo by Brad Foster
Norm Metcalf, Boulder, Colorado
Dave Rike's article {{"The Tower" }} is an interesting account of the pseudofannish legend of building a tower of beer cans to the Moon. In it, Dave speculates about the origins of the idea. In 1962, Pat Fetta pointed out that the idea had been swiped from a San Francisco Bay Area disk jockey name Red Blanchard, who on his show had been promoting a tower of beer cans.

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Ahrvid Engholm, Stockholm, Sweden
I had read Willis's story before (in Warhoon 28) but I hadn't really got the grip of the real story of the bheer can moon tower (Dave Rike's article). We've heard the myth in Sweden too and would sometimes build small bheer can towers ourselves. It was when I came to the Brighton Worldcon in 1979 that I got really impressed with the myth. At Seacon's dead dog party, they made a triangular bheer can tower along one wall, with full bheer cans paid for by the convention. The party room must have had 4-5 metres to the ceiling, and the cans were free for the taking. When you had drunk one you were supposed to start a new tower along the opposite wall with the empty cans. I don't remember what happened with the new tower, because I did my very best to contribute to it.

The strangest thing happened after I had finished the article about Cucumber. I had re-read all those old Crochet Supplements in Cucumber and, well, got a bit inspired -- so I relaunched Crochet. This time I did it as an electronic fanzine (with a very small photocopied print run beside) and since October last year I have published them almost weekly (26 issues, No. 20 to 45). And that's not all: I've also founded a new, small APA, though it is not secret this time. It's called SKAPA, like an earlier APA that was secret.

There were some comments on my hoax article in the LoCol. For the record it should be noted that the article was true. (Those suggesting that I am a hoax could be of great help if they wrote to the Intersection committee in Glasgow and promoted this notion. That way I wouldn't have to pay the convention fee, which like all con fees seems to skyrocket. A non-existent person should be let in for free, shouldn't he?)

Anyway, Vincent Clarke noted in his letter that we in Sweden "more or less modelled (our) fandom on what (we'd) read," just like British fandom modelled itself from what they read in American fanzines. This is basically true, but it should be noted that there was a considerable shortage of foreign fanzines in Sweden. The best ones, the classics from the `50s and `60s, existed in maybe only 1-2 copies here. We could get occasional copies (sometimes we could borrow from older fans), but we couldn't follow complete threads of myths and events. There were major gaps in the fannish education -- and we had to invent things to fill those gaps. For instance, when the divinity of Roscoe was introduced here, we had to improve the Roscoe theology, like all the details of the Perfect Fandom that Roscoe would take all trufans to. Entirely new concepts were added, like the Fannish Raw Power that comes from Roscoe.

The most valuable sources were books, like Harry Warner, Jr.'s All Our Yesterdays, Moskowitz's The Immortal Storm, Knight's The Futurians, Hell's Cartographers (six autobiographies, most by Futurians), and of course The Enchanted Duplicator (which we first found serialized in Amazing -- Ted White did a good thing by publishing that). People who want to interest others in fandom's history should remember to try to make the most valuable information available in book form. Books survive.

These days I guess the easiest thing is to make fanhistorical information available electronically. Things on the net, like printed books, will probably survive. Dave Langford is making all his Ansibles available that way. When I logged into the Ansible FTP-site I also found Rob Hansen's ca. 1 megabyte-long history of British fandom. I've myself made some texts available electronically and will continue doing it. (I'm thinking of doing a draft translation into English of my Swedish fancyclopedia, the Fandbook, as long as I don't have to do it manually. The translations programs available now aren't too good, but maybe in a couple of year's time...)

We also need some technical development, so we could publish some old fanzines electronically. OCR is barely usable for printed texts. Mimeographed text is probably an OCR nightmare -- maybe texts could be published as picture files instead?

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Pär Nilsson, Halmstad, Sweden
In reply to Vin¢ Clarke's letter of comment about the origins of Swedish fandom, I would like to say that fandom in Sweden is modeled on `50s American fandom rather than `50s British fandom. The Tower to the Moon Made From Empty Bheer Cans is a well-known part of our fannish mythology, and the Carl Brandon hoax was duplicated by John-Henri Holmberg (as 'Carl Brandon, Jr.'), just to name two examples. I'd heard of people like Terry Carr, Boob Stewart, Ted White, and Dave Rike before I heard of Walt Willis (or indeed, Vin¢ Clarke).

Anyway, I thought the best things in M15 were by Thayer, Farber, Hooper and Ogorelec (words), and by Harvia, Stiles, Steffan and Erichsen (illos). Pass the praise on!

{{Consider it done! We have been fortunate to be able to feature some wonderful art to complement the fine essays we've published. We've been fortunate enough to win awards, but it's the contributors who really deserve the honor. }}

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Joseph Nicholas, South Tottenham, London, United Kingdom
I was interested to read Ahrvid Engholm's history of the secret Swedish APA 'Cucumber', albeit that I don't see why its members felt it necessary to keep its existence quite such a deadly secret. After all, apas are pretty exclusivist publications anyway, in that they are distributed only to a select group of people. So why go to the length of developing an apa which is intended only for distribution to the select of the select?

This question aside, Engholm refers to a game in which participants name stations in the Stockholm underground system until... "the one who says 'Stora Mossen' first wins." He gives no date for the invention of this game, although from his context it must have been developed in 1980 or 1981. If so, then it is not original to him, but would have been inspired by a very similar game invented by Kevin Smith, based on the London Underground system and called 'Finchley Central'. As explained in a late 1970s issue of his fanzine Dot, he invented the game (with Allan Scott) while waiting for a train home following a monthly One Tun meeting. Victory in the game was achieved by being the first to say 'Finchley Central'; finesse or style was shown by managing to say 'Finchley Central' immediately before your opponents. (Lack of finesse, of course, would be demonstrated by saying 'Finchley Central' at the very start of a game -- Engholm's example of a 'bad game' is almost identical to Dot's.) Kevin threatened (in jest) to produce an expensive three-volume set of rules with awful illustrations, without which the game could not be played at all.

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Martin Morse Wooster, Silver Spring, Maryland
Alan Stewart's article {{"When the Fans Hit the Eats" }} is a bit unfair towards American fans when he thinks it is a national eating out habit' to take out the calculators and determine individual bills and tips to the penny. I've been in a lot of fannish dinner expeditions (I've even led a local sf dining group that has met 101 times since 1985), and I've never seen this sort of behavior. Most of the time, American fans are as laid back as Australian ones about dining, except our surpluses are usually given to the waiter rather than to charity. (Not much different, actually, given how low waiters' wages are these days.)

One topic I wish Alan Stewart or Ahrvid Engholm had addressed is what fans in other countries like to eat when they dine. I recall that when I first read British fanzines in the 1970's, their pages were full of stories about fans having a few pints, then dining on extremely hot vindaloo curry, then running to the bathroom screaming, then going back to the con and downing five or six more pints. Is this still a British habit? What do Swedish fans like to eat when they go out? Around here, fans like to eat Chinese and Italian food; they tend to balk at more adventurous cuisines, such as Ethiopian, West African, or Central American.

Dave Kyle's reference to Fandom's Cookbook {{in "Tales of Bheer and Raven's Cake" }} leads me to faunch after this long-lost item. If anyone decides to reprint this cookbook, please let me know, because I collect cookbooks by sf fans and pros. Like fanthologies and fanwriter collections, they tell me quite a bit about fandoms of the past.

{{Martin provided a listing of fannish cookbooks in his letter, ranging from the relatively obscure (Fanfare, published by two Chicago fans in 1979) to the relatively well-known (The Bakery Men Don't See, which was a Hugo Award nominee in 1992). We know of a fannish cookbook that was published by a fan group in Nashville about six years ago (Nicki had a recipe in it). There are undoubtedly others. }}

In the letters column, Harry Warner should explain why non-sf amateur publications are "...incorrectly called fanzines." Why aren't they fanzines? They aren't published for a profit; their primary purpose is for people to communicate with each other; and they may not have any connection with science fiction, but then fannish fanzines aren't supposed to be about sf. Moreover, some of the underground's writers, like Candi Strecker and Anni Ackner, have been showing up in fanthologies -- and are better and funnier writers than most traditional fanzine writers.

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David Thayer, Hurst, Texas
Andy Hooper's article {{"I Fried A Thousand Times" }} about hot and fast food left me in a cold sweat. I partially paid my way through college working one summer in a hot dog chain. Had the minimum wage labor not been mind-deadening enough, at the end of August a teenager, his eyes dilated by drugs, appeared at the take-out window with a silver-plated revolver. The district manager missed the point when he offered me a raise the next day not to quit.

In response to Richard Dengrove's question in the letters column about reliving Vietnam, the behavior for a veteran is not unlike that of a child facing the monsters in the dark. A child cannot dispel the nightmares until he proves to himself that they are not real. Adults are no different. Only that the nightmares were once real and harder to dispel.

I take exception to Harry Warner, Jr., stating that Mike Gunderloy incorrectly called alternative press publications 'fanzines'. Mike was merely one of the first. The term now applies to a myriad of diverse publications. Language lives and dies by its ability to change, both in words and definitions. Harry just can't grok it.
illo by Alexis Gilliland
Ben Yalow, Bronx, New York
I was interested in your comments on Martin Morse Wooster's LoC. I agree (somewhat) with his comments about the difficulty of storing electronic fanzines, although setting up electronic archives is fairly common now. Also, since there are a number of archives available of all of Usenet, then any postings (like the Ansible ones), will be around forever.

Also, the comments about "...no room on the net for illos..." are no longer true. With tools like Mosaic around, you can not only have the illos, you could even have more complicated stuff (for example, audio/video of the stories being told) as part of the documents. It's not common yet, but it is certainly available even with current technology.

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John Foyster, Adelaide, South Australia, Australia
I wish I could be as comforted as R Laurraine Tutihasi is (in the letters column) about library and their collections of fanzines. In Australia libraries tend to be quite keen to collect stuff like this (and there are a couple of libraries in Australia which collect fanzines), but they also tend not to bother too much about them, and allow them to fall into disuse (or dispose of them) too lightly. Only this week one of the Australian newspapers carried a pretty sad story about a university faculty disposing of its specialist library at prices of $.50 to $3 a volume -- and by 'specialist' I mean the kind of library with autographed first editions. In many cases (and this could apply to science fiction and fanzine collections) vast amount of effort which have gone into the collection are tossed away casually. I believe there is a much stronger case for those who have collections to make sure that they stay in private hands, with people who really care.
illo by Joe Mayhew
Janice M. Eisen, Johnstown, Pennsylvania
Great, I thought. A special issue of Mimosa when I've just discovered that I've gained five pounds. However, after reading David Thayer's, Sharon Farber's, and Andy Hooper's articles, I've decided you should try marketing the ish as a diet aid.

With respect to Andy's article, I don't know what it is about Pepsico's fast-food chains. I've avoided Pizza Hut assiduously after reading an article in Harper's several years ago which talked about the propensity for ground glass and machine parts to find their way into the pizzas. Now Andy Hooper gives us reasons (as if the atrocious food wasn't enough) to avoid Taco Bell. I think it may be time to quit patronizing Kentucky Fried Chicken.

I have this theory that all conversations at conventions eventually come to the subject of Harlan Ellison. Actually, I usually say "deteriorate into discussions of Harlan," but I can't use that phrasing for Ted White's entertaining and fascinating anecdotes. Admittedly, "The Girl" is only peripherally about Harlan, but his personality and other people's reactions to it manage to dominate the story. Ted's ability to sketch people and events is unparalleled.

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Michael Shannon, Austin, Texas
I enjoyed the fact that Ted White's "The Girl" gave us a somewhat positive view of Harlan Ellison's relations with the world; that seems to be a rare feat.

Also, Andy Hooper's "I Fried A Thousand Times" made an excellent closure. I had heard some of the stories from Andy when he and I both lived in Madison, Wisconsin, and I was hoping they would see print. It reminded me of my days as a dishwasher at a Country Kitchen restaurant; I, too, was there long enough to see the start and finish of most of the staff.

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Ted White, Falls Church, Virginia
So Harlan calls me up on the phone, not long after the most recent issue of Mimosa has appeared with my story "The Girl" in it.

"Ted, Ted, Ted..." he says with mock sorrow. "When will you let me vet these things for you, so that you don't make all these amazing mistakes?"

He tells me that he is in fact referring to "The Girl." I ask him what mistakes I made.

"Well, for openers, Dona S***** is still very much alive," Harlan says. "And all those credits she gave you? She wasn't making them up, Ted." It seems that it was her mother who recently died of cancer. "She took over her parents' garment business," Harlan tells me, "and she's doing very well with it." He remains in contact with her, and she and his wife Susan are friends.

That seems to have been the major error on my part. Harlan also says that he didn't get his Austin Healy from Bill Hamling -- I have no idea why I retain such a clear memory of him telling me otherwise at the time, but perhaps Bill figured in a different car story and I confused them.

Harlan also confirms my supposition that he and Dona had not been 'intimate', as we say, in those golden years of yore. He considered her to be too young. He enjoyed her company in public.

In any event, I am pleased that Dona is still alive after all, and happy to convey this information to your readers.

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Brian Earl Brown, Detroit, Michigan
Overall, I found that I just couldn't get into the 'food' theme of M15. We all like to eat, some more than others, but alas, I have few food preferences (to my wife's despair whenever she asks me, "What do you want for supper?"). Outside of nothing too spicy, nothing too messy, and nothing that looks like something alive, I'll eat about anything. How boring.

Nonetheless, there were several very enjoyable articles in this issue, including Sharon Farber's always delightful (and disturbing) tour of doctoring {{"Tales of Adventure and Medical Life" }}, David Thayer's C-Ration memoirs, Andy Hooper's Fry-ghtmare from Taco Hell, and Ted White's "The Girl." Ian Gunn and Alan Stewart both mentioned the American policy of tipping waiters, which they contrast to the Australian policy of paying waiters a decent wage to begin with. I agree there's something cruel about making a person's livelihood dependent on offhand generosity of strangers, the way restaurants do when they make the bulk of a waiter's income come out of tips.

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Darrell Schweitzer, Strafford, Pennsylvania
I'm glad to see that Dave Rowe (in the letters column) has coined (or uses) the handy term 'hoax-hoax'. We've needed something like that for a long time, for cases where someone starts out as a real person (or at least convinced of their own reality) and ends up a hoax after all. In the pages of Energumen, 20 years ago or so, there was some discussion of whether or not a Canadian fan named Will Straw was or was not a hoax. I chimed in, suggesting that he was not, because the hoax had no apparent agenda, quite unlike, I added offhandedly, the David Hulvey hoax, which Robert Whitaker and I had perpetrated to parody fannish fandom. Hulvey was a militantly fannish fan of the early `70s, derived from such then topical sources as Firesign Theatre. He was so stridently anti-sercon that, well, one was tempted to have a little fun with him. My one off-hand reference took off. I got several inquiries about it. Years later, I was astonished when someone who I thought had actually known Hulvey asked me, "How much of him were you?"

There I was re-inventing the wheel. The hoax-hoax. Hulvey probably believed in his own reality. By the time we were done with him, it wasn't so certain.

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Lloyd Penney, Brampton, Ontario, Canada
Concerning the theme of M15, food and drink are popular topics in fandom, in spite of the fact that many of us are the victims of food and drink. By that, I mean that food and drink are the main reasons conventions don't sell t-shirts in sizes small and medium anymore.

As for hoaxing, it is far and wide in fandom. However, hoaxes are usually started by people who only see names in fanzines, but never the faces connected with them. Dale Speirs told me at ConAdian that people would see his name in print, but they'd never see him. Eventually, word got around that Dale Speirs was a hoax, and that the name was simply one of Garth Spencer's pseudonyms. It took several appearances at conventions in Alberta and British Columbia for Dale to convince others that he really did exist.

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Maia Cowan, Royal Oak, Michigan
I had hoped to contribute a family heirloom to your Food issue, but for some reason none of my sisters preserved our father's recipe for pickled tongue. Actually, I know the reason: all of us hated the smell. The recipe's appearance on our kitchen table was our cue to go visit our grandparents for several days. We could never understand how we could be related to a man who would actually eat such a disgusting thing.

I do remember that the list of ingredients included a bottle of sherry. The sherry had nothing to do with pickling the tongue, at least not directly. The instructions began, "Take a swig of the sherry, because you have to pick up the damned tongue." This bit of advice is repeated at suitable points in the process. The recipe concludes, "The tongue is pickled, and so is the cook."

I never learned where my father got the recipe. He may well have written it himself. He was, after all, the one who dubbed my aunt's delicious egg noodles, "Aunt Ann's Ancient Secret Family Recipe For Homemade Egg Noodles, Also Good For Patching Plastic Swimming Pools."
Life was entertaining around our house, even when we weren't cooking.

Mimosa 15 was also entertaining, even when your contributors were writing about food even less appetizing than a pickled cow's tongue.
illo by William Rotsler and Steve 
Gary Brown, Bradenton, Florida
It's hard to think of many 'fan' subjects that have been ignored by 'historians' like food. Conventions, discussions, and friendships in fandom usually all revolve around a meal, snacks, or something having to do with food. Great idea.

I had to laugh at Rich's experience with the whipped cream can {{"A Portrait of the Fan Editor as a Child, Part 2" }}. A few days ago, I saw a Reddi-Whip commercial hitting on the 'nostalgia' of good whipped cream from a can. I remembered the good-tasting whipped cream from my younger days, so when the boys came here for a day, I bought a can of Reddi-Whip and lectured them on the joys of the 'finer things' in life. Needless to say, the can didn't work and we had to take it back. Grrrr. Dad as goofball, exposes himself again.

{{Thanks for the compliment, but the idea for the 'food and drink' theme issue was mostly Teddy Harvia's. Anyway, you're right that food is one of the fundamental forces in the fan universe. The response to our call for submissions was even greater than we had hoped for, and even provided a few unexpected morsels like the following mini-article... }}

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Malgorzata Wilk, Warsaw, Poland
I first joined the fandom in September 1987 (well, at least it was the first time I was at a convention; a couple of weeks later I became a member of the SF Lovers Society of Poland). It was a Thursday morning and the annual Polcon (this time in Warsaw, my home city) was about to begin. I registered, got the information sheets, checked the programme, and went to the movie room. I watched 2½ movies and then nothing; there was a gap in the programme, with nothing to do. How glad I was when I became friends with an equally lonely and somewhat confused girl. Later, we watched more movies together and she shared her sandwiches with me. She definitely saved me from starving to death, not that I would have noticed it, hypnotised by the small tv screen. I think that there was nothing to eat at this students club where everything took place. With something around a 1,000 attendants it was probably the biggest con in Poland and probably the first one where not only club members were allowed, also simple people from the street who saw the advertisement. Well, not everybody did buy a subscription for food along with the attending membership. At that time nobody would ever think of capitalism in Poland, and of food that actually was easily digestible and wouldn't get one sick.

That first day all I had to eat was one small sandwich. But I didn't notice; I saw five or six movies and I don't remember how I came home. The next days were similar -- home made sandwiches and movies. That was my first convention. Later on I joined two clubs -- one was fortunately situated in a students cafe so we could drink coca-cola (or Siberian tonic -- with vodka) and eat cheese toast with mushrooms and ketchup. Just imagine a semi-long parisian bun cut longways covered sparsely with cheese with here and there small dark spots -- the mushrooms. At that time on every corner in Warsaw they sold such toasts directly from tiny caravans, two square meters small; private enterprise, the first signs of capitalism. Fast food a la Poland.

The next year I and my friend Agata (whom I met at the Warsaw Polcon) went south to Chorzow for the fourth Polcon. We took a room at a youth hostel for the three nights and didn't bother about organized meals; we went to town for shopping and made our own sandwiches. Mmmm, I still remember those with the luncheon meat, you used the fat from the can as butter. And this time we also had a bottle, one of the plastic type that you buy good Scotch whisky in at airports. We poured cold tea in it, and added lots of lemon juice and sugar. We caught many longing views from the other participants, who questioned: 'Is it real?'

Then in May 1991, a very important convention took place; the Eurocon in Cracow. This time everything went wrong; nobody knew where and when something was going to happen. I think the person responsible for the organization is still on the Black List of Fandom. The only thing that was OK was the town itself with all its famous restaurants. I didn't bother very much preparing anything to eat. One day I went for lunch with James P. Hogan, James Walker, a Belgian and a Polish fan; the next day I joined a group of united German fans for dinner at a Chinese restaurant. But still we prepared most of our meals in the hotel rooms.

Then in December 1991, I went with another friend to the Nordcon, organized by the Gdansk SF Club. It was fun, too. First of all I got drafted; to the OKP (a citizens parliamentary club of Solidarity), SS, and KGB. This OKP was a preparing camp of the SS (Special Forces) and the KGB (Cosmic Group of Safety). We arrived again early Thursday morning (Polish cons always last four days, from Thursday till Sunday) at Gdansk central station. In great conspiracy we had to go to a newspaper stand and whisper something to get instructions how to get to the place where the Imperial Space Shuttle was waiting for us to get us to the top secret Camp. It was fun, with lots of instant soup and luncheon meat sandwiches. I guess I did lose some weight; I definitely like conventions.

Today everything is different; after five years of capitalism the quality of food has very much improved. There are numerous restaurants for the wealthier fans. The conventions are occupied by younger fans playing role-playing-games, not knowing of the problems we, the older ones, had to cope with. They can buy all the books we could only dream about -- we had to read them in horrible translations, published on newsprint by so-called pirates in a gigantic edition of one hundred (!) pieces (which was of course highly illegal). We also had more time and will back then to meet and talk. One must also not forget why we met -- to buy the newest books and watch the newest video film, as not many of us possessed a video recorder.

I will miss those times...

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David Levine, Portland, Oregon
Thanks for Mimosa 15. It's keen. I especially liked the cover and bacover, which I found terrible witty. Then I suddenly realized: The vegetable 'graveyard' on the bacover is actually where plants start, while the 'nursery' (harvest scene) is where plants end. Whoa!

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We Also Heard From:
Chaz Baden; Harry Bell; Pamela Boal; Ned Brooks; G.M. Carr; Russ Chauvenet; Vincent Clarke; Chester Cuthbert; Buck Coulson; John Dallman; Richard Dengrove; Allyson Dyar; Sharon Farber; George Flynn; Brad Foster; Meade Frierson III; Tim Gatewood; Kim Hainsworth; Irwin Hirsh; Binker Hughes; Steve Hughes; Tom Jackson; Irv Koch; Ken Lake; Dave Langford; Rodney Leighton; Fred Liddle; Eric Lindsay; Ethel Lindsay; Sam Long; Adrienne Losin; Kev McVeigh; Murray Moore; Richard Newsome; Marc Ortlieb; Karen Pender-Gunn; Derek Pickles; Dave Rowe; Robert Sabella; Tom Sadler; Ron Salomon; Skel; Steve Sneyd; Garth Spencer; Alan Stewart; Mark Strickert; Jürgen Thomann; R Laurraine Tutihasi; Roger Waddington; Michael Waite; Taral Wayne; Henry Welch; Tom Whitmore; and Walt Willis. Thanks to one and all!!
illo by Bill Kunkel

Title illustration by Joe Mayhew
Chat cartoon by Teddy Harvia
Other illustrations by William Rotsler, Bill Kunkel, Phil Tortorici, Brad Foster, Alexis Gilliland, Joe Mayhew, and Steve Stiles & William Rotsler

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